Cheese with that Whine?

Jun 02, 2003

Here’s one thing we can all agree on. No one likes a whiner. Complainers suck you down. They are depressing. And when they work in our firms in key roles, they are like a cancer. Right now, with a weakened economy, there are more whiners than ever out there working in A/E and environmental firms. Here’s some of what we’ve seen lately and my response to their complaints: Whiners heading up marketing. “We don’t have enough money to do anything,” is the mantra of the whiners in the marketing department along with, “Marketers don’t get any respect in this firm.” BOTH of these problems are something the marketing director should do something about. How about SELLING for a change….selling inside the firm what marketing can do/does do for the firm? No one is going to give you any resources unless you can convince them why they should. IF you have no evidence of successes, you can’t blame the higher-ups for not giving you what you say you need. And if you don’t get any results that you can show anyone else, why would anyone respect you? Whiners running offices. “We could make money if not for our corporate overhead allocation,” is probably the number-one whine heard from branch office managers. Or my other favorite is, “We don’t get any help from the main office.” I want to tell these people to get off their rears! They need to take responsibility for their own success and stop looking for excuses for their lack of performance. If they are part of a big firm, they will have overhead allocation. They should get a lot back for that allocation… like a good brand name that opens doors, freedom from having to generate their own capital, and a whole lot more. And as far as help goes, my experience is that what goes around comes around. When times were good in the branch office, were you sending a lot of work back to the main office? Or were you simply touting your own accomplishments and criticizing other units in the firm that weren’t as successful as you were? Live by the sword, die by the sword! Whiners in accounting. “We can’t get timesheets in on time,” “These people won’t do their expense reports,” and “Draft bills don’t come back for weeks unless we bug the PMs constantly.” This is some of the whining that the accounting department staff makes, and I’m getting really tired of it. Just stop paying people who won’t turn in a timesheet. Set time limits on expense reimbursement and let the non-compliers pay their own expenses if they can’t get their reports in to you on time. And don’t let them have forever to review bills… 24-48 hours is plenty of time, at which point if they aren’t back in your hands, mail them anyway. A few bad bills landing in the laps of their clients will convince ‘em that they better turn these things around fast or face the after-the-fact embarrassment (and wrath) of their clients. Whiners in the CFO job. “We don’t have enough capital,” and “Profitability is too low,” are just a couple of the complaints that CFO-whiners are making right now. Why don’t you have enough capital? Have you designed (or redesigned) your firm’s Ô ownership transition plan so it tends to work? If not, why not? Isn’t this really the domain of the CFO? I think so. And what about profitability— have you made any specific suggestions on how to turn that around or do you just talk about it being too low? That’s your job, too, in my opinion. Whiners in free-floating principal roles. “No one ever puts me on their projects any more,” is the drum-beat of the deadbeats in the free-floating principal roles (the ones who don’t have an assigned managerial position). My first response to this statement is “Why do you think that is?” Probably the answer is they are too expensive for what they contribute, they’re too slow, or too rigid in their approach. How about taking a more positive approach? Work harder, work faster, and be more flexible in how you do things. Or better yet, go out and sell some of your OWN work to do instead of sitting around waiting for others to feed you. Why are you a principal anyway? Any of these whiner-types sound familiar? Give them (or me) a piece of your mind and drop me an e-mail. Originally published 6/02/2003.

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